Saturday, December 13, 2008

Grand reopening

"A guest talks on the phone outside at the historic McNasby Oyster Company, home to the Annapolis Maritime Museum, which marked its grand reopening at a party Monday, Dec.1. The $1.2 million renovation repaired damage done by Tropical Storm Isabel."

My "bag-o-tricks" is always in my back pocket. When to open it and put the contents to use must be used cautiously though. Yet when the lighting is bad, the room is overbooked and there isn't much happening, every trick is going to be a big part of the assignment.

The historic McNasby Oyster Company, home to the Annapolis Maritime Museum, marked its grand reopening with a party last week and I had to shoot a spread of standalone images, no story since it was already written about, including the front page.

What was noteworthy about this story was that the $1.2 million renovation repaired damage done by Tropical Storm Isabel and would again be open for the public to visit. When Isabel ripped through downtown Annapolis in September 2003, the 90-year-old McNasby Oyster Co. building was damaged badly and sat in 4-feet deep water at its floor level.

While it's not finished yet, they did line the walls with all sorts of art, including photographs and paintings to name a few, and of course, lots of artifacts and historic memorabilia.

When I arrived and found parking in the tight streets of Eastport I walked in and noticed this 7,000-square-foot museum was jam packed. Since the museum only had two rooms accessible, each 2,000-square-foot, the big crowd didn't have much room to roam.

Normally if I know I have a cover or front page, I'll work on finding that image first. This time, however, I thought I'd just blend in and try and find the moments that made this night momentous. That proved to be tough though.

With the drinks flowing, the chatting echoing the rooms and folks shoulder to shoulder, I was finding it difficult to make an image that wasn't a smattering of people merely standing around enjoying cocktails.

This is when I needed to break out some tricks and get creative.

The exhibition side of the two rooms was far less crowded, so I spent a good portion of my time in there making some nice images of people talking about where their home used to sit on old maps from 1868 to 1968, and others scoping out some old photographs and artifacts.

Once I felt I had enough from that room, I reluctantly returned to the loud, over booked "art" room.

Again, my tricks (you didn't think I'd actually spill them did you? Ha) came into play. The light was not too bad horrible and there was no room to walk. I actually had to go back to my car to get a 17-35mm because my 35mm and 24-70mm weren't wide enough to make anything significant.

With so many people crammed into a small area it was also hot. It was so warm that the windows on the entrance side of the building were totally fogged. I wasn't having much luck with the crowd, so I stepped outside to clear my mind and get some fresh air.

What I didn't know until I walked out the back door was that the museum hosted a large deck that overlooked the bay. It also had the iconic "Historic McNasby Oyster Company, home to the Annapolis Maritime Museum" sign painted on the wall.

This is when I knew I had found my front page image. I saw the frame in my head, but needed some sort of human element to bring it together. So I sat leaning against the railing facing inside for what seemed like a solid hour.

At this point I wasn't hot anymore, but becoming very cold as the cool air blew up from the water and I waited for folks to also wonder outside to cool off.

After waiting for at least a good 20 minutes, two visitors roamed outside. One woman was from news station and it wouldn't tell the story. Another guy was talking on his phone, but was no where near the door opening.

Then following shooting about 50 frames of an empty doorway, just about when I was about to give up and trash the idea of getting the frame, the guy started walking back toward the door and I laid on the motordrive like no other.

With a little bit of luck and good timing (and my exposure nailed down after a bunch of meaningless frames), I got the above photo. The two frames before and after this one would have not made for a good image. I got lucky.

After getting that, my confidence boosted back up and I returned inside and made images far better than the ones I had previously thought I'd transmit.

Overall, it was a tough assignment for what it was, but I remembered the little tips and tricks I always have in my pocket that I know will give me some confidence to push me through the little, no light, crowded assignments like these.


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